Marlins-Brewers Preview

The Milwaukee Brewers recent slide has them looking up at another team in the NL playoff race.

Their struggling offense, though, could have a key figure back Monday night when they open a four-game home series with the Miami Marlins, who will be out to win a second straight series against one of the NL teams they’re chasing.

Carlos Gomez, who has been out of the lineup since Aug. 31 with a sprained left wrist, could be back at the top of the Milwaukee order for the opener.

After Sunday’s 9-1 home loss to St. Louis, Milwaukee (74-69) has dropped 11 of 12 and fallen behind Pittsburgh for the second NL wild-card spot, batting .225 and scoring 2.33 runs per game during its swoon. Its only run was driven in by Gomez’s pinch-hit single in the ninth inning, his first at-bat since suffering the injury.

It was of little consolation down nine runs, and as a result, Ron Roenicke’s team hasn’t won a series since sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers from Aug. 15-17.

"There’s no excuse … it’s tough," Gomez said. "We know we’re not playing like a team. Just put it in the past and come tomorrow and win."

The Marlins (69-72) could provide the Milwaukee lineup with a prime opponent to break out against. The Brewers have won 19 of the last 25 meetings, including two of three in Miami from May 23-25 while batting .330 with 17 runs in the series. Gomez went 8 for 13 and is batting .471 against Miami the last two seasons.

Roenicke also needs a bounce-back effort from Yovani Gallardo.

Gallardo (8-8, 3.43 ERA) turned in one of his worst starts of the season in Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander surrendered seven runs and eight hits in five innings for his second rough start in his last three.

There has been no such inconsistency in his matchups with the Marlins, going 5-0 with a 1.12 ERA in seven career starts.

Miami heads north after taking two of three in a home series with Atlanta and is 4 1/2 games back of Pittsburgh in the wild-card chase. After Sunday’s 4-0 win over the Braves, a sweep at Milwaukee would even the teams in the race.

"The good thing is we won a series, and that just makes the next one that much more important," Casey McGehee told MLB’s official website. "Believe it or not, we’re still hanging around. We’ll see where this goes."

McGehee is just a .162 hitter against Milwaukee, his former team, while Giancarlo Stanton is a .171 hitter at Miller Park – his worst average at any NL park.

Christian Yelich has been the hot bat in the order lately, going 2 for 4 Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. The left fielder is batting .407 in his last 24 games.

Brad Penny is in line for another start after bombing in his last outing.

Penny (1-1, 6.61) latest start was his worst since returning in early August, giving up four runs and seven hits in three innings of Tuesday’s 8-6 loss to the New York Mets.

Things haven’t gone a whole lot better against the Brewers for the 36-year-old with a 3-3 record and 5.07 ERA, but he hasn’t faced them since 2008. Mark Reynolds is 7 for 17 with a home run against Penny while Aramis Ramirez is 10 for 26.